CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Following the evacuation of a Woodlake pool Thursday due to pool chemicals, first responders and pool maintenance crews spoke Friday about how to keep swimmers safe.
Frank Kinnier, Battalion Chief Emergency Operations Division in Chesterfield County, says in a typical year they respond to four to six calls involving chemicals at pools. Thursday, hazmat evacuated the Aquatics and Fitness Center in Woodlake. Investigators discovered, “a bucket of granulated pool chlorine off-gassing.”
The chemicals were not properly stored. Once they got wet, people started complaining of irritation and burning in their eyes, nose, and throat.
“Most of the effects of anything that produces chlorine is going to be in their respiratory system,” Kinnier said.
The Batallion Chief says there are three main issues they see with pool chemicals. They are wetting, mixing, and the presence of flammables being a fire hazard.
“What we would advise people to do is to make sure that they are storing their chemicals in a neat manner separated from each other,” he said.
Nathan Tate is on the pool board at the Chestnut Oaks Recreation Association. He takes precautions to keep swimmers safe there. The chlorine tank and chemicals are always stored correctly and kept away from swimmers.
“We keep our chemicals locked up and only manager and the board has a key,” Tate said.
They also test the pool pH levels every other hour. These are actions members like Claire Brasler appreciate.
“We see them testing the water pretty much every day that we are here, so I feel very safe about my kids swimming here,” Brasler said.
Kinnier says it’s not only public pools that need to take precautions. Homeowners must be careful too.
“People that run community pools that run commercial pools they are fairly knowledgeable in the procedures they need to do, but it is also important for homeowners to have an awareness of what they need to do to safely store their chemicals and safely use the chemicals for their own pool,” Kinnier said.